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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Feral Third Child

There are advantages and disadvantages to being the Feral Third Child.
One advantage is that your mom, who isn't paranoid about much but is paranoid about balloon death, will let you wear a balloon hat.
Another is that your mom won't die on the sunscreen hill if it's after 6:00 p.m.
Nor will she die on the bike helmet hill for tooling around the neighborhood.
Nor will she die on the bedtime hill. Or the chore hill. Or so many hills she nearly died on with your older brothers.
In essence, the Feral third is feral because peace is more important than principle. Hence, the Feral Third basically has no bedtime, no wake up time, few scheduled chores, plays with balloons, can avoid sunscreen if he so chooses, and doesn't always wear his helmet. He's seen movies that make my toes curl for many reasons, heard jokes that aren't appropriate for any human to hear let alone a young one, and knows more about the physical attributes and activities of some humans than some of my adult friends.
He hangs out with teenagers at an age when I wouldn't have wanted my older boys to hang out with preteens. He thinks taking their abuse is a sign of love, which has led to some distinct fearlessness on the soccer pitch.
However, the Feral Third also tends to get overlooked. He is after all nearly 5 and 7.5 years younger than the older two, who were a pair for much of their lives. They are nearly back to "pair" status now, sharing friends again, hanging out together--especially if said shared friends are involved--sharing interests, playing on the same soccer teams last fall and all winter, sharing clothes (albeit begrudgingly at times), etc. But Feral Third just isn't quite there, no matter how much he thinks he should be involved. The 17-19 year old crowd just doesn't want to drag a 10 year old around. The 14-16 year old crowd avoids him by avoiding our house much of the time.
Oh, he tries to lure them in. He has a grand collection of Nerf guns which entices the older boys to play with him at times. It's the rare male who can pass up a good Nerf gun. He throws out "that's what she said jokes" with the best of them, much to my chagrin. But he really is the third wheel, sadly.
One huge disadvantage to being the Feral Third is that he hasn't grown up needing to make friends. Because we homeschooled for so many years, he had built in playmates until quite recently. His brothers were always home, especially during the day, and when nothing else is going on, they are quite satisfied having him around, even now. More so in the past, when they were both younger. If he didn't have brothers, there were other homeschoolers to fill in the gaps, but in general, he didn't need friends.
Now he does. Sadly, though, most of his friends have built in friends with siblings who aren't half a decade younger than them. And neighborhood friends, which we don't have. And mothers who still arrange playdates because these boys are their "oldest" or close enough for mom to still be involved.
So, while his friends are always happy to play with him, they rarely call him. And he doesn't have a long list of friends for him to call because he's pretty choosy.
This all means he frequently feels very left out.
However, the biggest disadvantage to being the Feral Third is that his physical milestones are, by now, just fill of the "oh well" factor in the family. When the Ideal First needed to regularly wear deodorant, it was an "Ordeal of the Grandest Sort." What kind is best? What is least toxic? Where should he keep it? blah blah blah. By the time the In the Shadow Second needed regular use of deodorant, we were able to say, "Look to your brother..." and it was still a sort of Rite of Passage, involving labeling his to keep it separate from his brother's, etc. With the Feral Third, it was "Oh My God, you stink. Get some deodorant. Wear it." And the poor child had to root around in the bathroom supply cabinet to find some unclaimed deodorant, which ended up being some that I used shortly after my surgery, before I realized I no longer had body odor.
And it's up to him to remember to use it.
I can't imagine what it will be like when he has to start shaving.
Poor chook.
No wonder he's feral.

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